How much radioactive waste is there in the world?

How much radioactive waste is there in the world?

From the NDA Website where you can find out the management of radioactive waste and nuclear materials, and the progress of cleaning up nuclear sites in the UK.

Nuclear Decommissioning

Have you ever wondered how much radioactive waste exists in different countries? Or if there are differences in how countries are planning to manage or dispose of it?

These are some of the things I discussed at a recent meeting of technical experts in radioactive waste and spent fuel management at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).

Engaging with the IAEA and member countries

One of the most fascinating parts of my role as the National Waste Inventory Manager is engaging with international peers in the field of radioactive waste and spent fuel management and sharing best practice.

In July, I gathered with 25 technical experts from other member countries such as Canada, France, United States and Spain to discuss the current status of radioactive waste and spent fuel inventory management at the IAEA’s Technical Meeting on Status and Trends in Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management. One of the things we discussed was the update to the UK’s national radioactive waste and materials inventory being undertaken now.

The UK is a member state of the IAEA, and one of our obligations is to submit information on the inventory of our radioactive waste and spent fuel and on the progress of waste management programmes. One IAEA initiative has been the development of a summary ‘Status and Trends’ report to describe:

A global overview of radioactive waste and spent fuel inventoriesA summary of individual countries’ approaches to waste managementA summary of global trends and challenges in radioactive waste and spent fuel management

In 2018, the first ‘Status and Trends’ report was published and the UK is currently inputting into an updated report.

Levels of radioactive waste

The UK is just one of a large number of countries managing radioactive waste and spent fuel, representing a very small fraction of the global total. One of the trends in the latest Status and Trends report was that a significant proportion of global Low Level Waste (LLW) has already been disposed of to date (see Fig 3). This is similar to the UK where a lot of progress has been made in consigning LLW to designated disposal facilities such as the Low Level Waste Repository.

Read more at The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.